CAW Leads EI Protest
St. John's, Newfoundland
November 10, 1999
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dated November 10, 1999
Liberals cheered when Federal Finance Minister Paul Martin announced that the government would achieve massive budget surpluses over the next five years. However, union members in St. John's were in no mood to celebrate.
Bert Blundon, VP, Nfld. and Labrador Federation of Labour
"I think it's irresponsible of any government to steal our money to pay down the debt and to pay down taxes, because that's essentially what they're trying to do here."
Delegates to the annual meeting of the provincial Federation of Labour accused the Finance Minister of gutting the Employment Insurance program and diverting its $26 billion surplus to balance the Government's books.
The delegates overwhelmingly supported a resolution introduced by the FFAW/CAW demanding that the erosion of the EI program be halted and benefits restored.
FFAW/CAW President Earle McCurdy called the Government's EI policy, "shameful".
Earle McCurdy, President FFAW/CAW
"Really what it does, it attacks the seasonal industries in our country. We're not only short well over a million jobs in our country, we've got over another million seasonal jobs in Canada, and these changes are clearly targeted to attack seasonal industries and the people who depend on seasonal employment. And, the real question on all of this is, how long are we going to put up with it?
If we need money for the EI fund, if we need money to pay for Canada's accounts, then I can think of one good place to get some. The Minister of Finance, who lectures us daily on television about tightening our belts, could start by having the companies that he owns pay Canadian taxes. That would be a good start."
The delegates' applause turned to chants as they took their protest to the streets and the steps of the Newfoundland Legislature.
Elaine Price, President, Nfld. and Labrador Federation of Labour
"It's absolutely ridiculous that Paul Martin is on the radio and TV this morning talking about the $90 billion surplus the Federal government is going to have while unemployed workers and their familes go hungry in this country."
Since 1994 workers in Newfoundland and Labrador have lost more than $1 billion in benefits because of cuts to the EI program. Among the hardest hit have been women, and people in small, rural communities.
Helen Evans, Plant Worker.
Hant's Harbour, NF.
"Church activities, stores. . everybody is affected, everybody in the community is affected. The population of Hant's Harbour is only 500 people. So, you can imagine. .that is the employment in our community. It affects everybody."
CAW "Fighting Back Makes a Difference."